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Lenny718's picture
Full-Contact Continuous Kumite: Best Type for Technique Application?

Hello folks.  I am pretty much a Karate novice having only a brief stint at World Oyama Karate.  So my kumite has been limited to that though I also trained at an MMA gym for a while.

I know that complete realism is impossible with so many variables in the world outside of the dojo with guns, other weapons, and multiple attackers, et all. However, what I am trying to ask is what do you think is the best format of kumite for application of techniques, in a realistic environment, and which do you prefer to compete in, which may be a different answer?

Is it Knockdown Kumite of Kyokushin and its numerous descendants such as World Oyama Karate, with a face-punching prohobition? 

Is it the Knockdown Kumite with throwing of Ashihara Kaikan and its descendants such as Enshin Kaikan?

Is it the American Full-Contact style as exemplified by Bill Wallce, Benny Urquidez, and Joe Lewis, and their low-kick proohibition?

Is it the Gloved Karate of Shin Karate and Seido Kaikan?

Is it Bogu Kumite, with head padding?

Is it the Mixed Martial Arts kumite of Daido Juku, and its offshoot Zen Do Kai?

Is it the Irikumi Go of some Goju Ryu organizations?

These are just examples I put here in case you folks are wondering what I am posting about.  There are probably full-conact formats that I do not know about since most information I have is from Full-Contact Karate Magazine from Japan, and Wikipedia.  Also, I do understand that some folks are just not big on full-contact sparring, and subsequently competing (and I know this is not a sport forum but a forum on Karate as a Martial Art).  Thank you in advance for even reading this far.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Those are all competitions, with their own specific set of rules and protocols, not just types of training. I think "The best" is to train specifically for whatever ruleset or protocols we plan to compete in, if that's our goal.

If the goal is to acquire more self-protection oriented physical skillsets then I think Geoff Thompson is an authority. Iain has great resources also on how to train sparring for self defense, and specifically for working with Karate strategies and tactics on his Kata-Based sparring dvd/video. It's the best thing out there for how to structure self-protection based Karate sparring, in my opinion. There are also (I think) a couple of PDFs on this site somewhere covering the progression of this kind of training, they are free and very worth getting.

In my limited experience with my own class restriction sparring drills are very good for acquiring specific skills.

So yeah, I'm not sure what you mean by "the best" here.

colby's picture

Do you mean like full contact sparring in the dojo or when your actually competing?

Lenny718's picture

It looks like Iain wrote something on the matter.

In spite of me adding clauses to be more specific, I guess I ended up being confusing. To rephrase, what style of sparring ruleset do you enjoy training in and sometimes competing with? Also, which of theses rule sets do you perceive is most practical for your self-protection?  As someone who lives in and grew up in New York City during the 1980s, I know for sure what happens on those streets can usually not be prepared for with any training.

In addition, I am going to say that the original point of any sport is an approximation for live combat, as with the original Olympics in Olympia, Greece.  However, this may not be a discussion for here, but many sports have denegrated to cheap fleeting amusements for "respectabilty".  (Side note: And you would not believe how many ball players think they are "tough guys" for just having some athleticism to them)

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

I don't really think any of them is particularly practical for self protection, they are symmetrical engagements which don't include things like pre-fight dialogue, deception, psychology and physiology of violence etc. I think if someone is interested in self protection, they can probably study that stuff supplementarily and get a lot of out of any of them though, as long as the differences are understood.

e wrote:
I am going to say that the original point of any sport is an approximation for live combat

Combat sport generally are a "square go", a symmetrical contest between equals as it were. Literally a "match".They have always been this historically, and you can even read (among others) Roman generals lamenting their soliders getting too fixated on these sorts of contests. So I think it depends what kind of "live combat" you mean, and what you are training for.

You did not mention it, but if I had to give a format I'd argue the best full contact sparring for self defense is likely full contact scenario training in High Gear or something similar, preferably involving the pre-fight dialogue, de escalation attempts, etc. Mick Coup has some videos on his Youtube channel that look like excellent training of this sort, to my eye.

On a personal level, I've always really liked kyokushin style sparring, even though hitting the head is out (which is huge, let's not minimize it), the close range and continious nature of it comes closer to my  personal experience of actual violence than some of the other competitive Karate sparring formats I've been exposed to. I haven't done any competition in years but I remember when I was much younger going from point style to some Kyokushin style tournaments was quite a shock.

I guess I favor that kind of engagement as part of "general Karate" type skills, but I don't think it's particulalry great training for self defense, just a branch one can go down to be a good Karateka...which are in truth not the same goal, even though they overlap in places.

It's worth pointing out here because you asking about application of technique:

Most of those formats actually don't allow for the use of some Karate techniques owing to format, which is why I mentioned Iain's KBS stuff, because it does.


colby's picture

I think it's also important to ask what level of force are we talking about here? By full contact we talking about giving 100% full contact or something more reasonable. Cause nothing sounds like a terrible time than going hard all the time.